Department of Justice

DOJ probes SMNI’s interview with convicted Palparan

Lian Buan
DOJ probes SMNI’s interview with convicted Palparan

'THE BUTCHER' IN BILIBID. Retired Major General Jovito Palparan stays in a crowded quarantine jail facility inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. Photo by Adrian Portugal/Rappler

Adrian Portugal/Rappler

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirms both the Department of Justice and the lower court were not informed

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) will investigate how convicted kidnapper retired general Jovito Palparan was interviewed on Quiboloy-owned SMNI without the knowledge of both prosecutors and the lower court.

“Usec Deo Marco will conduct an investigation tomorrow. Let’s wait,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters Thursday night, March 31, when asked if there were violations committed, particularly on the part of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which supervises convicts. The BuCor is under the DOJ.

Palparan was convicted in 2018 by a court in Bulacan of kidnapping and serious illegal detention over the disappearance of student activists Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. Palparan was sentenced to 40 years in prison, and has begun serving that sentence at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

On Wednesday, March 30, SMNI aired a two-hour interview with Palparan to aid the Duterte government’s publicity campaign against activists, seeking to paint the convicted general as a victim. Mothers of the activists and the lawyers have slammed this interview as a “cheap shot.”

Guevarra said the “rule is not clear” whether courts grant the permission to interview convicts, who are technically already under the BuCor.

But Guevarra said they will check whether Palparan is appealing his conviction “because that may have a bearing on jurisdiction.”

“The court still has jurisdiction, but granting interviews may be considered an operational matter that BuCor may resolve by itself. We’ll check the existing BuCor operations manual,” said Guevarra.

SMNI is owned by self-styled pastor Apollo Quiboloy, who is wanted in the USA for sex trafficking of children. Its airwaves have also been used as a platform for red-tagging progressives. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.